Several UK LGBTQIA+ and military organizations published a letter Monday to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak demanding the government address its commitment to discuss reparations owed to LGBTQIA+ veterans, days after the UK government announced that the planned debate in the House of Commons regarding the issue will no longer be going ahead.Previous Defence Minister, Ben Wallace, initially promised to hold a parliamentary debate on the topic in response to an independent report on the service of LGBTQIA+ veterans who served prior to 2000. The LGBT Veterans Independent Review detailed “the existence, enforcement and consequences of an official policy current in HM Armed Forces between 1967 and 2000,” the period in which no LGBTQIA+ person was allowed to serve in the Armed Forces, despite homosexuality being legal in the UK. The ban was lifted in 2000. Many LGBTQIA+ veterans gave testimonies for the review, illustrating the homophobia, bullying, blackmail, sexual assaults and “disgraceful medical examinations” that occurred as a result of the ban, as well as their effects on veterans’ mental health and living situations.When the review was published in July 2023, Sunak gave a speech in parliament, apologizing on behalf of the nation for this “appalling failure” of the British state and the subsequent impact on veterans. Despite this public apology, the government then abandoned its intentions to debate this issue in parliament.Thirteen individuals and organizations are now demanding the government deliver on their promises to address the issue. In their letter to Sunak, the groups stated that “the Government must ensure these veterans are not let down again.” They asked for Sunak to uphold the planned debate, as well as to “put in place a compensation scheme which fully recognises the disadvantage and injury LGBT+ veterans have suffered.” Specifically, they urged Sunak to abandon the recommendation by the LGBT Independent Review that capped a compensation scheme at £50 million as “There are better ways to protect the public purse than a cap.” In concluding their letter, the groups stated:We call upon the Government to recognise this once in a lifetime moment to bring an end to the shame and dishonour imposed upon these veterans. If we are to realise this Government’s ambition to be the ‘best place in the world to be a veteran’ and a ‘global exemplar in LGBT rights’ then our veterans must feel a sense of justice and experience the security and comfort in older age that we would wish for all veterans. Remove the cap and agree fair compensation for those affected by the illegal and cruel ‘gay ban.’The government is set to publish their full response to the ‘LGBT Veterans Independent Review’ shortly.

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